Take the Stress Out of Holiday Travel

If you believe the lyrics to “Jingle Bells,” people used to laugh all the way during their holiday travels. Today, getting to grandma’s house may be a little more complicated, but there are still ways you can make it less stressful.

Try these holiday travel tips and sample meditation to make your trip more enjoyable.

Stress-Free Holiday Traveling

  1. Give yourself plenty of extra time. Staying calm is easier when you give yourself plenty of lead time. Leave the house a little earlier than usual.
  2. Expect to run into snags. That extra time will come in handy if you miss a connecting flight. Keep an extra change of clothes with you in case some luggage gets lost.
  3. Pack light. If possible, ship your gifts directly to the recipients so you have fewer suitcases to wrangle. Get in the habit of using a single carry-on bag.
  4. Travel during off-peak hours. Early mornings, late nights, and the middle of the week may be less crowded. Shorter lines are a great way to reduce stress and weariness.
  5. Start out well rested. You can manage everything better after a full night’s rest. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep before your trip. Take an afternoon nap if you’ve got a late flight ahead.
  6. Bring healthy snacks. Skip the fast food at the airport. A protein bar or a bag of homemade trail mix with nuts and dry cereal will give you more nutrition and energy.

  7. Limit alcohol and caffeine. Take it easy with the free cocktails. Flying is dehydrating, so alcohol and caffeine aggravate the effects. They can also make it more difficult to meditate. Drink more water instead.
  8. Use portable meditation props. Airlines generally disapprove of lighting up incense but will welcome less intrusive props. Bring a string of wooden beads you can use for counting or load a favorite image onto your smart phone or tablet.

Sample Meditation for Holiday Travel

  1. Get into position. Sit up straight and relax your shoulders. Take deep breaths from your abdomen. Let distracting thoughts dissolve away as you focus on your breath.
  2. Think about your destination. Picture your destination and the loved ones you’ll be visiting. Mentally greet them and describe to yourself the good times you’ll share. Think about what’s for dinner and the gifts you’ll exchange.
  3. Expand your thoughts to those around you. Remember that you’re surrounded by people making similar plans. Think about all you have in common. Make believe that you’re all sharing a loving and joyous celebration.
  4. Focus on your new holiday mood. Once you’re feeling relaxed and happy, let go of the details and rest your mind in that warm feeling. If other thoughts begin to interfere, retrace your steps to bring that positive sensation back.
  5. Dedicate your good feelings. Pretend you can wrap up those good feelings in a box and present them to everyone around you. Pay special attention to those who may be experiencing less fortunate circumstances.

  6. Gradually return your attention to the present moment. Bring yourself out of meditation slowly. Take notice of your body and the objects around you while trying to keep a relaxed mind.

  7. Remind yourself of the fellowship you felt while meditating. There may still be lost luggage or missed connections ahead. When you encounter a hitch in your plans, think about how good you felt while meditating and use those thoughts to maintain your composure.

Holiday travel can be challenging, but you can make it easier on yourself. Plan ahead and use simple meditations to lift your spirits and enjoy more peace of mind.

Improve Your Powers of Concentration

Improving your powers of concentration will help you get more done in less time. Below are some of the major benefits of developing your ability to focus as well as some practical steps for achieving extreme concentration.

The Benefits of Improved Concentration:

1.      Be more productive. By devoting your full attention to whatever you’re doing at the moment, you’ll produce better quality work in less time. It really is this simple!

2.      Be a better friend. Conversations are more pleasant if you feel like others are really listening to you. Paying attention to others will help you appreciate your family and friends, and understand how to support them when they need it.

3.      Feel more peaceful. Many studies have found that multitasking makes people slower and less effective at performing various tasks. Trying to do too many things at once can cause stress and make you feel less alert. By contrast, focusing on one thing helps to calm your mind.

Training Your Mind To Concentrate:

1.      Focus on one thing at a time. Place your mind on whatever you’re doing in the present moment. Think about how you act when you’re engrossed in a thrilling movie or a new romance and try to duplicate that experience. If you don’t feel passionate about a particular task, look for some meaningful aspect or motivate yourself with the desire to complete it in less time.

2.      Abandon distracting thoughts. Your mind will wander. Remain aware of your thoughts. When you notice a distracting thought, decline to pursue it. Return your attention to your chosen object. Repeat this as often as necessary. With practice, it will get easier.

3.      Meditate. To enhance your progress, try meditating. Sit and focus on your breath or spiritual attainments. You can extend that mindfulness to all your daily activities from eating lunch to playing with your children.

Other Steps to Improve Concentration:

1.      Minimize external distractions. Your restless mind is probably the greatest distraction, but a controlled environment can help too. Turn off your phone and wait until later to check your email. Clear off your desk. If you can’t find a quiet spot, consider using white noise recordings, instrumental music, or earplugs.

2.      Get fully engaged in what you’re doing. It’s easier to focus when you’re actively involved. Take notes in class. Highlight passages while you read. Think about questions you want to ask a speaker. Invent ways to improve a routine household chore.

3.      Vary your activities. While you’re increasing your attention span, it may be helpful to switch from one activity to another to remain alert. So if you feel stuck writing a report, go return some phone calls for a while – you’ll feel rejuvenated when you come back to the report.

4.      Plan regular breaks. Taking breaks can improve your performance. Chat with your co-workers or walk around the block. Reward yourself with an activity you enjoy after completing a difficult project. Just standing up from time to time is refreshing because it helps your brain get more oxygen.

5.      Avoid overloading your schedule. Budgeting your time realistically can make it easier to concentrate. You’ll be less likely to get distracted by worries about getting everything done. If you’re chronically overloaded, you may need to adjust your priorities.

6.      Take care of your health. Your physical health affects all your mental functioning. Get adequate sleep and rest. Maintain a healthy weight by eating a nutritious diet and getting daily exercise.

Your ability to focus will improve with practice. As you learn to concentrate more fully, you’ll enjoy greater peace of mind and productivity.